The Ultimate Guide on What to Wear Hunting

November 22, 2021 9 min read

The Ultimate Guide on What to Wear Hunting

Unlike many other hobbies, clothing significantly impacts your chances of success while hunting. It is fair to say that, next to your hunting weapon and ammunition, your clothes and wearables are the most crucial equipment you can bring on your hunting trip. Think of your hunting clothes as a system of multiple elements that must work together. The type of hunt you're on as well as the environment, weather, temperature, amount of physical activity and many other factors influence what you should wear. Follow this guide to build the best hunting clothing and wearables system, suitable for any environment and any type of game.


Before getting intothe specifics of must-have hunting gear, you should understand the essential principle of hunting clothes: layering. A well-rounded set of hunting clothes consists of three parts: a base layer (or inner layer), an intermediate layer (also called middle layer or mid-layer) and an outer layer. Each layer must fulfill a specific job and keep you protected against wind, cold and sweat while also allowing you to adapt to changes in temperature. If you start feeling too hot, you can remove excess layers. If the temperatures drop again, you can simply put them back on.


No matter what you intend to wear on the field, make sure your hunting clothes (even inner layers) are safe for hunting and won’t reduce your chances of success.Deer are essentially red-green colorblind, meaning they cannot distinguish reds and oranges from greens (it appears as shades of brown to their eyes). However, they can see blue colors better than human eyes, and they have a much keener ability to detect movement.

If your local or state laws have safety orange requirements, you should ensure thatany visible clothes you wear are safety orange or orange camo.The mostcommon examples being an orange vest / jacket and orange stocking / ball cap.   The role of safety orange clothes is to keep you visible to human eyes without setting off alarm bells to the critters you're after.  

conceal your movements

The best way to remain camouflaged from a deer is to avoid wearing anything with tints of blue and of course, minimize movement as much as possible. While safety orange increases your visibility to other hunters in the field, , a professional-grade hunting blind, such asthe Shadow Hunter Marksman, is one of the most effective ways to conceal your movements.  It's a good idea to mark your blind with 4 orange panels, one for each side approx 24” x 24”, indicating there is a hunter inside.  Infact, many states actually require this during firearms seasons so it is always a good idea to check your local game laws before going afield.

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The base layer is the layer of clothing closest to your skin, not counting underwear. The role of your base layer is to absorb sweat and moisture, keeping you dry and comfortable. Typically, a base layer for the upper body consists of a long-sleeved shirt for the upper body. The equivalent for the lower body is wearing base layer pants, which resemble long-sleeved leggings.

Fabric options for base layers include synthetic fibers, cotton, silk and merino wool.


Synthetic fibers like polyester and polypropylene are lightweight, excellent for moisture absorption and stretchable, making them ideal for hunters who move a lot. Additionally, they’re durable and easy to wash. However, these materials are neither breathable nor especially well-suited for freezing temperatures. Additionally, once they have absorbed their maximum capacity, they lose their limited insulation capabilities. If your hunting environment has mild to cool temperatures (20 to 50°F), synthetic base layers may be the best choice. They keep you comfortable and wick away most of your sweat. 


Cotton is the most common natural fiber used in everyday clothing, and it is an excellent choice for hunters on a budget. This material is hypoallergenic, breathable and well-known for absorbing moisture (cotton can absorb up to27 times its own weight in water!) Cotton is an ideal choice if you hunt in dry and warm environments,such as elevated hunting blinds with heating.

The fabric’s moisture retention capabilities and slow-drying properties allow it to draw heat away from your body more effectively than other choices, keeping your body temperature under control. 


Hunting clothes advertised as silk employ a hybrid blend made of synthetic fibers infused with silk. This blend provides unmatched strength, bringing together the anti-allergenic advantages of natural fibers and the durability of synthetic fibers. Additionally, silk base layers are naturally resistant to fungi and mold. Although there are few technical drawbacks to using silk layers, this material is one of the costlier options available on the market. It also offers insufficient insulation for freezing environments.


If you hunt in an environment where the temperatures frequently drop far below 30°F, there is no better choice for keeping warm than merino wool base layers. Sourced from merino sheep, this fine wool has excellent heat retention, and it is naturally soft and pleasant to the touch, making it comfortable to wear for extended periods. If it’s cold outside andyou like to hunt in a ground blind, this fabric is a natural choice. It also possesses anti-bacterial and fire-resistant properties. However, it is a slow-drying fabric with low moisture retention, making it unsuitable for warmer climates or rainy conditions.

aiming rifle from blind


The middle layer (or mid-layer) goes over your base layer but does not serve as your main protection against low temperatures. The primary purpose of this layer is to provide additional insulation and protection against moisture. Fabric choices and corresponding recommendations for mid-layers are the same as those for base layers. However, remember that the mid-layer may serve as your outer layer in mild temperatures, giving you just the right amount of warmth without the risk of overheating. For this reason, your mid-layer should be made of waterproof fabrics so it can continue keeping you warm and dry even in rainy weather.

If you hunt from dawn to dusk, nothing will feel worse than wearing tight and uncomfortable clothing all day. Ensure your mid-layer fits you snugly without feeling overly tight. Your base layer already fits snugly around your body; if your mid-layer is too tight, it can ride up or limit your mobility, decreasing comfort and providing inadequate protection. However, mid-layers that are too loose may sag or fail to trap heat adequately.

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The outer layer’s primary job is to serve as your first line of defense against the elements. It must be highly durable and protect you against rain, wind and rough terrain elements like branches and thorns. Additionally, it is the layer you’re most likely to wear most often, so it must also keep you camouflaged from the game’s sight. However, your outer layer must not be overly thick and heavy. During the day, you may want to remove the outer layer and regulate your body temperature. The key factor here is to choose an outer layer that gives you the protection you need while still being packable.

Besides durability and protection from the elements, you must also ensure that your outer layer doesn’t break your stealth and make it easy for the game animals to detect you. The two primary factors here are sound and colors. If possible, test the outer layer before purchasing it. Try it on and move around in it, paying attention to the noise it produces. If it rustles too loudly, don’t buy it. Most game animals have a highly developed sense of hearing; if you can hear yourself rustle when moving, so will your prey.

climbing up ladder to blind

The other stealth factor concerns colors and camouflage. While there is no shortage of hunting products with technologically advanced, highly realistic camo patterns, the first thing on your mind should be safety. Even if your local or state laws do not have safety orange clothing requirements, wearing orange is still highly recommended to keep you and others safe from a hunting accident. Here, you have two options:

  1. The first is to choose an outer layer where the primary color or camouflage pattern base color is safety orange. It should cover most states’ minimum surface area requirements and eliminate the need to wear an additional safety jacket or extra orange accessories.
  2. The second is to choose an outer layer with realistic colors or patterns and overlay them with a safety orange jacket or pair them with extra orange accessories. This approach allows you to remove the orange elements when not hunting.


You may have noticed that the layering system for hunting clothes involves three layers for the upper body, but what about the lower body? As a hunter, you will frequently walk, kneel, crawl and trawl through difficult terrain. So, your hunting pants should generally be at least as durable, if not more so, than your outer layer jacket. 

While you can layer pants, you typically shouldn’t need more than one or two layers. Consider your primary hunting pants to be your outer layer for the lower body. If your environment is cold, you may need base layer pants. Base layer pants are like leggings but made of materials suitable for hunting conditions. When choosing base layer pants, follow the same fabric recommendations as with upper body base layers.


Complete your hunting clothes wardrobe with accessories appropriate to your local weather and terrain, such as headgear, gloves, socks and boots.

hunting clothes accessories


Headgear includes items such as hats, caps, and beanies. Like with upper and lower body clothes, the right choice of headgear can improve your safety and comfort.

  • A classic baseball cap or a Boonie hat in warmer climates protects your head from the sun and prevents sunburn.
  • In cooler climates, warm headgear such as a stretchable beanie, a cap with ear flaps or an ushanka protects your head, ears and neck from the cold. 
  • Under freezing temperatures, consider pairing your warm hat with a balaclava, neck gaiter or a winter mask to increase your protection from the cold.

In most states with safety orange requirements, the legal wording typically states that it must be worn “above the waist,” including headgear. Consider choosing safety orange headgear instead of drab or camo, as it will count toward your minimum square inches.


There are four broad categories of hunting gloves: full-fingered, fingerless, partial fingerless and mittens.

  1. Full-fingered hunting gloves protect your palms and all five of your fingers from the cold and the environment. They are appropriate for mild to cold weather.
  2. Fingerless gloves trade some protection from the cold for more tactile dexterity, allowing you to use touchscreens or operate a bow more effectively.
  3. Partial fingerless gloves are a compromise between full and fingerless. Typically, they only leave the first three fingers uncovered (thumb, index, middle) while fully protecting your ring and little fingers.
  4. Mittens are a necessity in freezing temperatures, giving you the extra warmth you need. However, standard mittens reduce your dexterity, preventing you from using hunting weapons or equipment. Instead, look for hunting mittens (with separate thumb and index fingers) or gloves with removable mitten caps.


Regardless of the environment, hunters must be prepared to walk upward of several miles through challenging terrain in a single day. A good pair of hunting socks significantly contributes to keeping your feet warm, comfortable and odor-free. The two best materials for hunting socks are merino wool and synthetic fibers. Merino is warmer and more comfortable, whereas synthetic is more durable and dries faster. Hunting socks come in various weights, which you should match to the temperatures. The colder the weather, the heavier your socks should be.

Most game animals have a highly developed sense of smell, relying on their olfactory system to detect and avoid predators. If possible, look for socks with scent control technology, which will not only keep sweat and moisture away from your feet but also combat foot odors.

quick boot insulation guide


Navigating a hunting environment means treading through dirt, grass, mud and water. The right pair of boots can mean the difference between a successful hunt and a bad day on the field. The three factors for boot comfort are sizing, boot style and insulation weight. One of the most common beginner hunter mistakes is to choose a size too large, typically to compensate for the heavy socks. However, you should avoid upsizing, as this not only makes your boots uncomfortable but also alters your gait and stride, increasing the chances of sliding, falling and getting injured.

Most standard pairs of hunting boots use leather or nylon paired with a high-grip rubber sole. While traditional hunting boots are not meant for treading in water, you should still ensure your pair is water-resistant, as it will protect your feet from developing blisters. If you frequently tramp through swamps or creeks, you’ll need a pair of watertight high  neoprene insulated rubber boots instead.

Many hunting boots come with insulation (typically measured in grams) for protection against the cold. The lower the temperatures, the higher your boot insulation level should be. Here’s a quick reference guide:

  • Less than 200 grams: Best suited for mild temperatures (over 50°F)
  • 200-500 grams: Cold temperatures (30 to 50°F)
  • 500-800 grams: Freezing temperatures (10 to 30°F)
  • 800 grams or more: Extreme conditions (0°F or less)


At Shadow Hunter Blinds, we have the tools you need for success when hunting. Our 100% U.S.-made professional-grade hunting blinds and blind accessories are engineered with the utmost care and optimized for use in any environment. 

Whether you hunt with a bow or a gun, in a static area or on the move, Shadow Hunter Blinds has you covered. For questions, inquiries or additional information, don’t hesitate tocontact us today


Image Credits


Tom Reichner/




Ruslan Kudrin/